By: Frank Roijmans, Executive Director of the Institutional Family Planning Services at Merck
It was an honor and a pleasure to participate in the Women Deliver Brunch, preceding the UN Summit where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a major concerted effort to accelerate progress on Women's and Children's health. The brunch was designed to exchange thoughts and come up with ideas to integrate and create synergies amongst all the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) through concerted actions at country level. Merck/MSD fully support the endeavors of the United Nations, Women Deliver and the wider development community. We share the top priority goals that include improving universal quality access to reproductive health and reducing maternal mortality, which are major contributors to the overall health of women, families and society.
The innovative medicines industry plays a unique role in protecting and enhancing the health of women around the world. MSD's primary mission is the discovery and development of novel medicines and vaccines. This year MSD will dedicate more than USD 7 billion to that goal; across the industry, an estimated nearly 70 billion USD will be committed to researching and developing new medicines that enhance, extend or save lives (PhRMA report). Our other mission is to work in partnership with key stakeholders to facilitate the delivery and accessibility of these new and innovative treatments.
While progress has been made, there is more to be done, especially among the poorest and least-educated women. Merck/MSD is actively engaged in many countries where maternal mortality is high and the prevalence of contraceptive use is low. The United Nations goals also call for greater global partnerships for development, including more cooperation with pharmaceutical companies to provide affordable essential innovative medicines in developing countries. We work closely with global organizations, local Ministries of Health and other groups and individuals who are trying to address the complex healthcare challenges that confront us. Through these partnerships, Merck/MSD will continue to provide high quality products and the knowledge, skills and networks to help health care providers and women gain access to family planning options and use them effectively.
As part of our commitment to maternal and child health, we have joined the new ambitious goal, led by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition through the HANDtoHAND campaign: of achieving 100 million new users of modern contraception by 2015 – meeting the needs of 80 percent of women in low- and middle-income countries. Family planning options that meet a variety of women's' needs are essential to this mission. Merck/MSD proudly committed to the following:
- Ensure global access to our family planning products, by obtaining and maintaining up-to-date health registrations that include least and less resourced countries.
- Maintain WHO pre-qualification for our family planning products.
- Make our products available to family planning programs of governments and non-government organizations in least and less resourced countries at deeply discounted prices that also enable sustainable long- term focus and improved public health.
- Increase resources available to enrich our in-country work and partnering as well as to contribute to the effectiveness and outcomes of family planning programs in the context of the Millennium Development Goals.
We look forward to partnering to help women.